My health visitor told me about HENRY because I was finding it quite a struggle to get my 3 year old daughter Tilly to eat proper meals. I like cooking but Tilly wouldn’t try anything I made. She mostly just wanted to eat crisps and biscuits.
To be honest, I know I don’t have a very healthy diet myself and I’ve always struggled a bit with food. Sometimes I don’t eat all day until the evening. I was also finding Tilly quite a challenge to cope with in lots of other ways. She would not go to bed in the evenings until late, and then most nights she would get up in the middle of the night and demand to come into my bed. She could also be quite rude to me sometimes. I am a single parent and I often have my sisters sleeping on my sofa too, so life can be a bit chaotic.
We started the HENRY 1-to-1 programme with Stephanie at a time when a few things in our lives were changing. Tilly had just started nursery and I had started going to a weekly therapy group for adults with complex needs. Stephanie helped me think about what I would like to change to make my life and Tilly’s life healthier. We talked about offering Tilly small simple meals like cheese, crackers and apple slices, or small amounts of frozen vegetables with pasta, so I wouldn’t stress if she didn’t eat it all. I also thought about simple breakfasts for both of us like cereal with banana. I started using the family reward chart, and Tilly loved giving me stickers as well as getting stickers for when she listened to me. I had some new ideas about bedtime and decided to turn the TV off an hour before Tilly’s bedtime, so she would start going to bed earlier and in a calmer mood.
Stephanie asked me about what I enjoyed cooking and offered to cook some of the recipes in the HENRY book with me. We made mini pizzas on English muffins with cheese, ham, pineapple and sweetcorn. Tilly loved cooking with me and I felt really proud of how good she was and how much she listened. She ate all her pizza. At the next session we made apple crumble together. I peeled the apples and Tilly arranged them and poured the crumble mixture over them.
It was really fun cooking together. After that I decided I wanted to make a lamb hotpot before the next HENRY session. It’s something I’ve always liked but never made. When I made it, Tilly ate it too and she loved it! The rest of my family liked it too.
I realised that by involving Tilly more with cooking and offering her smaller amounts her eating habits had got much better. I think the HENRY programme helped me become more confident as a parent. I got much better at setting limits because I felt more confident in myself. Stephanie showed me lots of things I was doing with Tilly were already healthy, like walking her to nursery every day. Realising this gave me confidence to try out a few new ideas. Both Tilly and I are enjoying life together more now and we are both calmer and healthier.
Find out where HENRY programmes, workshops and activities are running
Get the children involved by letting them choose their own toppings
Great tips to help the whole family get healthy